What's the Most Important Element of a Good Story?

At this year's Aspen Ideas Festival, we asked a group of writers, journalists, and producers to explain what makes a story great. According to House of Cards showrunner Beau Willimon, the answer is a simple one: "The most important element in a good story is conflict. It's seeing two opposing forces collide with one another." Other panelists include Michael Eisner, Catherine Burns, Jay Allison, Jon Lovett, Yoni Bloch, Paula Kerger, and Jonathan Harris.
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Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit SmarterCreativity.com.

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Big Bird, big brain

The Economist on Sesame Street

Since 1969, “Sesame Street” has been introducing small children to letters and numbers by using clever skits and songs performed by Muppets and celebrities. Patrick Stewart, for instance, reworked Hamlet’s soliloquy as an ode to the letter B (“B or not a B, that is the question”). Now a report by two economists, Melissa Kearney of the University of Maryland and Phillip Levine of Wellesley College, has tracked the first generation of watchers (who were under six in 1969). It reveals that children who had access to “Sesame Street” ended up better prepared for school and were 14% less likely to fall behind in class. 
...
The show’s effects are not unlike those of Head Start, a federal scheme that provides poor families with services that include school-based early education. But it costs a fraction as much, says Ms Kearney. “Sesame Street” is not a replacement for early education, which most studies agree is vital; but it is certainly a very affordable supplement. “In essence,” she says, thinking of massive open online courses, “Sesame Street was the first MOOC.”
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Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit SmarterCreativity.com.

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Neil Gaiman: How Stories Last

Neil Gaiman, at The Long Now Foundation, explores how stories last over time

Stories are alive. The ones that last, Gaiman said, outcompete other stories by changing over time. They make it from medium to medium—from oral to written to film and beyond. They lose uninteresting elements but hold on to the most compelling bits or even add some. The most popular version of the Cinderella story (which may have originated long ago in China) has kept the gloriously unlikely glass slipper introduced by a careless French telling.
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Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit SmarterCreativity.com.

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The Week's Links: June 26, 2015

ALL THE LINKS POSTED ON SOCIAL NETWORKS THIS WEEK:

  • All the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2015 Grand Prix Winners owl.li/OGATT
  • Why Award-Winning Chefs Are Still Looking for Unpaid Internships owl.li/OGC7X
  • How to be a better complainer owl.li/OGzvR
  • How X-rays see through your skin - Ge Wang owl.li/ODV6J
  • A Big Solar Burp Pelted Earth Last Night owl.li/OOzT7
  • More than 100 New Marine Species Were Just Discovered in the Philippines owl.li/ODO8a
  • ◉ Inside a Camera at 10,000fps owl.li/OBlfa
  • How John Bell Designed The Future, And The Hoverboard owl.li/OCQOK
  • The Hunt for the Financial Industry's Most-Wanted Hacker owl.li/ODtMt
  • What 10 Dieter Rams Products Reveal About The Principles Of Good Design owl.li/OCQD6
  • The story of the invention that could revolutionize batteries—and maybe American manufacturing as well owl.li/ODqev
  • ◉ Procrastination - smartercreativity.com/blog/2015/6/21…
  • Amazon's New Plan to Pay Authors Every Time Someone Turns a Page owl.li/OCFtu
  • Don’t Follow Your Passion, Follow Your Contribution owl.li/ODkGc
  • The Creativity Top 5: The Best Brand Ideas of the Week owl.li/OD3OP
  • Nina Simone’s Time Is Now, Again - The New York Times owl.li/OBnOM
  • Computers Are Learning How To Treat Illnesses By Playing Poker And Atari owl.li/OBnNt
  • ◉ The School of Life: How to Find Fulfilling Work owl.li/OBl8M
  • Malcolm Gladwell: One Character Trait That Will Make You Disruptive owl.li/OARtu
  • Slow-motion video of a vinyl record playing owl.li/OBawj
  • A Productivity Expert Wants You to Do Nothing owl.li/OAQSi
  • Super Mario Bros was designed on graph paper owl.li/OBaqD
  • ◉ A New Theory of Distraction - smartercreativity.com/blog/2015/6/21…
  • Why are we so scared of sharks? owl.li/OAQPb
  • For a human, it would be like carrying 600 pounds between our teeth owl.li/OBafq
  • Contemporary classical composer unveils 'eight-hour lullaby' which audience will listen to from beds owl.li/OB9SS
  • How 77 Metro Agencies Design the Letter 'M' for Their Transit Logo owl.li/OANaJ
  • Creative games for creative designers owl.li/OAN4G
  • ◉ Can the Internet be archived? owl.li/OBl6I
  • 'If I burn out, I burn out': meet Taylor Wilson, nuclear boy genius owl.li/OA9wg
  • If Your Computer Existed In Multiple Universes, It Would Be Way Faster owl.li/OAIK8
  • Facebook's New AI Can Paint, But Google's Knows How to Party owl.li/OA9uS
  • The town that banned Wi-Fi owl.li/OAD7H
  • ◉ Can Reading Make You Happier? - smartercreativity.com/blog/2015/6/21…
  • The Man Behind 'The Most Interesting Man' Is Interesting, Too owl.li/OA9uf
  • Walter Cronkite introduces America to the Velvet Underground on national TV, 1965 owl.li/OA9xq
  • How Your Brain Understands Visual Language owl.li/OANdQ
  • The impossible world of MC Escher owl.li/OA9wI
  • Photographer Captures Striking Images of Tiny Lightning Storms Sparked by a Tesla Coil owl.li/OA7Th
  • From Psycho to Jurassic Park: exploring iconic movie poster typography owl.li/OA7n2
  • ◉ Benjamin Millepied: Haut Vol owl.li/OBl0K
  • “The Shire” or “Darwin’s Game”? Here are 4 visions of what journalism might look like in 2025 » Nieman Journalism Lab owl.li/OA71o
  • ◉ Recommended: Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World's Most Consequential Trivia - smartercreativity.com/recommendation…
  • Can We Design Trust Between Humans and Artificial Intelligence? owl.li/OA7cA
  • Misty Copeland’s Possible Promotion at ABT, If promoted to principal, she will be first black woman to reach top rank owl.li/ODNYn
  • America’s first responders, California Task Force Two follows disaster around the world. owl.li/OA6ZE
  • Data Journalism Awards Winners owl.li/OA7aE
  • ◉ Subway Platform Pas De Deux - smartercreativity.com/blog/2015/6/21…
  • The Unexpected Benefits of Anxiety owl.li/OA6QQ
  • The Shakespeare Algorithm owl.li/OA77t
  • Here's what happened when Google allowed its image recognition software to generate its own images. owl.li/OA8TX
  • 6 lessons in social storytelling from 6 months of reported.ly owl.li/OA74F
  • I once tried to cheat sleep, and for a year I succeeded owl.li/OA3fC
  • Can Typography Help Us Empathize With Others? owl.li/OA39Y
  • How We Built The World’s Best Design Event owl.li/OzVj0
  • Fulton Centre hub in Manhattan named Building of the Year thanks to technique which channels light underground owl.li/OA362
  • The Father Of "Getting Things Done": You're Getting Me All Wrong owl.li/OvMtL
  • Whose Dance is it Anyway? Chamber Dance Project mixes improv and ballet owl.li/OA2XU
  • Bees Are Literally Worrying Themselves to Death owl.li/OuXZZ
  • BBC Radio 2 appoints choreographer as 'artist-in-residence' owl.li/OA2Wr
  • How Your Siblings Affect Your Success According to Science owl.li/OA6PM
  • 25 Great Literary Series to Replace Your TV Habit This Summer owl.li/OA1TZ
  • To be a teacher and remain a student owl.li/OuOwb
  • 18 Sounds You Probably Didn't Realize Were Trademarked owl.li/OuM85
  • The Lesson Of Two Epic Logo Debacles owl.li/OsNqf
  • 100GB of NASA space photos turned into epic 4K time-lapse owl.li/OuLXq
  • Bruno Munari Will Make You Fall In Love With Books All Over Again owl.li/OsNo2
  • A Proportional Visualization of the World's Most Popular Languages owl.li/OuKhg
  • 20 Comic Book Series to Read owl.li/OsNjV
  • 50 of Film Noir’s Most Fashionable Moments owl.li/OuXR4
  • Fascinating Old Census Maps, Updated for a Modern America owl.li/OuJ7U
  • See Ralph Steadman's Twisted Illustrations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland on the Story's 150th Anniversary owl.li/OuIzX
  • Revealed: The Secret Gear Connecting Google's Online Empire owl.li/OsMP4
  • Why Mathematicians Are Hoarding This Special Type of Japanese Chalk owl.li/Os0Gz
  • ◉ A Museum in England Is Hiding a Forgery Among Its Masterpieces owl.li/OlzaF
  • Read 18 Lost Stories From Hunter S. Thompson’s Forgotten Stint As a Foreign Correspondent owl.li/OrRQk
  • NEW: Saul Bass' opening of Stanley Kramer’s The Pride and The Passion owl.li/Os0AC
  • Isaac Asimov's Favorite Story "The Last Question" Read by Isaac Asimov— and by Leonard Nimoy owl.li/OrRMA
  • The Art of Making - Flamenco Guitar owl.li/OrZJG
  •  The famously difficult green-eyed logic puzzle - Alex Gendler owl.li/OrRIF
  • Kite Aerial Photography - Intimate and Amazing Shots from Above owl.li/OrZzx
  • Insane 4k Calbuco Eruption Footage owl.li/OrZoS

Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit SmarterCreativity.com.

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